Orchardgrass is a bunch-type, tall-growing, cool-season perennial grass. It is one of the most productive cool-season grasses, tolerant to shade, fairly drought resistant with moderate winter hardiness. Orchardgrass does not exhibit as much tolerance to drought or winter hardiness as tall fescue and bromegrass. It has been reported growing in the United States since before 1760.
Most orchardgrass is seeded with a companion legume.
Drilling orchardgrass and the companion legume seed is preferred. The use of drills, such as the Brillion type or grain drills, will usually result in better stands at the same seeding rate, more controlled seeding depth and better seed distribution than broadcasting. Good results are obtained with grain drills when orchardgrass is put through the grain box and the companion legume is seeded from the small legume box. The legume seed should be allowed to drop straight to the ground to prevent covering too deep. Drag chains on the drill will cover the seed adequately. Pull a cultipacker or light roller over the field to give good seed-to-soil contact and promote more vigorous seedling growth.
Orchardgrass should be planted at a rate of 10 - 20 lbs per acre.
Seedings of orchardgrass can also be made with broadcast equipment such as fertilizer trucks, buggies or tractor-mounted distribution. Broadcast equipment will not throw orchardgrass seed as far as it will throw fertilizer or heavier seeds such as fescue. To help avoid uneven stands, drive the equipment close enough to overlap the previous spread pattern to ensure even seed distribution.
Orchardgrass seed should be covered with about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Spike tooth harrows or "brush type" drags make good tools for covering broadcast seed. The use of a cultipacker or lightweight roller is very important for the same reasons cited above.
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